A reader named Jason writes:
Monday, March 14, 2016
Ask JKM a Question: To Sequel or not to Sequel?
A reader named Jason writes:
"- Which movie that didn't get a sequel most deserved one?
- Which movie that did get a sequel (or franchise) should have just been left alone?"
Jason, those are two great questions. I shall compose two lists, to answer with! These are the answers I came up with immediately. I may want to re-visit both lists in six months.
Movies that didn't get a sequel that most deserved one:
The Black Hole (1979)
The probe ship survived the journey through the black hole and came out in a new universe. What is the nature of that universe? And would the hellish Reinhardt/Maximillian synthesis return to challenge the characters? I've wanted a sequel to The Black Hole since I was nine years old!
Flash Gordon (1980)
This is a genre movie that ended, literally, with a question mark. Did Ming survive his impaling? What will happen to the unruly kingdoms of Mongo without the strong man to lead them? Will Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov ever get home? Again, this is a movie I've desired a sequel for a long time.
The Thing (1981)
John Carpenter's classic bombed at the box office, but went on to become one of the most acclaimed and influential horror films of the last thirty-five years. The 1982 film ended in an ambiguous fashion, leaving open a series of possibilities and options for a sequel. Was MacReady the Thing? Was it in Childs? Were they both infected?
The Thing should have been a horror franchise.
Buckaroo Banzai (1984)
We were promised a sequel over the original's end credits, and longtime fans of hero should finally get a chance to see "The World Crime League" follow-up.
I would have paid good money (and still would, today), to see David Lynch oversee trippy adaptations of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Another Carpenter choice. Jack Burton is a great comic hero, and deserved a second film to establish a franchise. Each sequel could have taken on and parodied another action genre (as the original updated and commented on martial arts movies). In my opinion, it still is not too late for a legitimate sequel. Kurt Russell looks great, and could star in a sequel.
John Carter (2012)
One of the great fantasy movies of this decade, destroyed at the box office by poor marketing and the inexplicable choice to leave "of Mars" off the title. The Burroughs' novels offer endless possibilities in terms of adaptation choices.
Bottom line: we should be watching new John Carter movies every three years or so. We won't but we'll absolutely get new Star Wars and Marvel movies until we're puking our guts out from going to the well too often.
Movies that Got a Sequel but Should Have Been Left Alone
Superman II (1981). I love Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, and I loved the first two films in the original Superman franchise. But Superman III (1983) and Superman IV (1986) are really bad movies that only harm the character and his franchise. They are cheap and campy, and generally embarrassing.
Independence Day (1996). I understand why the original film was such a blockbuster. The thrill of seeing the Earth under attack by giant alien saucers, its landmarks destroyed, was great popcorn fun.
But what precisely does a sequel offer? More of the same? Is anybody out there jones-ing for an ID4 Part II so they can see what happened to the original film's off-the-shelf disaster character tropes?
Paranormal Activity (2007). So, how many of these films have there been now? Parts I through 4, then The Marked Ones, and then, The Ghost Dimension?
I would give the original a mediocre rating, and I rather liked Part III. Other than that, this is a series that has worn out its welcome. And I say that as a hardcoe fan of found-footage horror films.
The Hobbit (2012). So, the filmmaker here took three really long movies to adapt a relative short book?
You could actually read most of The Hobbit in the time it would take you to sit through three, nearly three hour films.
Imagine that instead of three over-long, undisciplined movies, we had gotten one really good Hobbit movie directed by Guillermo Del Toro? It would have been a nice after-dinner mint following the full meal of the Lord of the Rings movies.
Instead, we got two three-course meals in a row, and I never feel the need to eat from the Tolkien cupboard again, at least in terms of the cinema.
Thanks for the question. Don't forget to ask me questions at Muirbusiness@yahoo.com!